Philadelphia Eagles center Jason Kelce commented on the Simmons-Sixers situation during a media conference on Thursday, spending several minutes discussing athlete accountability and what it takes to play in Philadelphia. He also dunked on Simmons so hard that it might actually leave a mark.
“You write your own narrative,” Kelce said via NBC Sports Philly. “What’s going on, I don’t want to crush any other players, but what’s going on with the 76ers, Ben Simmons, stuff like that. All that is because of a lack of accountability, a lack of owning up to mistakes and a lack of correcting things.
“If all that got corrected, you fix the free throws, if you’re getting better as a player, none of this is happening. Everybody can b**** and complain about how tough this city is to play in. Just play better, man. This city will love you.”
Spot the lie. You simply can’t.
Kelce nailed one of the key issues in this whole kerfuffle: Simmons’ perceived lack of interest in fixing the weaknesses in his game. There’s a lot more to the situation than that (the Sixers, especially general manager Daryl Morey, handled everything very poorly), but when it comes to the relationship between Simmons and the fans, that’s it exactly. “Fix the free throws” and there would have been no issue.
But Simmons’ reaction — or lack of one — after a teammate and coach called out his obvious shooting issues following the Sixers’ elimination from the playoffs, is the moment the relationship turned for everyone involved.
Jason Kelce says Ben Simmons’ main issue is accountability. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)
Jason Kelce gets Philly
Philadelphia has a reputation as being a tough place for an athlete to play, but Kelce doesn’t agree with that at all. He thinks it’s easy to play in Philadelphia and gave current and future athletes a guide for how to do it right.
“Obviously, being a good player helps out,” Kelce said via Mike Garafolo. “You win the Super Bowl and have the game-winning touchdown, you’re going to be pretty loved. This city really appreciates accountability, appreciates people being very honest, real, emotionally invested, caring.
“There’s a lot of people who say it’s a hard place to play. I think it’s pretty f***ing easy, to be honest with you. You just go out there, play hard. Want to be loved in this city as a baseball player? Run to first base. They’re going to f***ing loving you. I mean, that’s what it comes down to. If you go up and make a bunch of excuses, if you come up here and try to lie to them and act like they don’t know what they’re talking about — which, sometimes they don’t — when you act that way or when you aren’t accountable if you’re making mistakes, or when you’re not getting better or anything like that, they’re going to crush you.
“Everybody’s going to get crushed at some point. Everybody’s going to go through a downturn or struggle, right? At all times this city is going to keep you accountable to be doing your job and performing. But if you stick to it, if you fight through it and you get better and everything like that, they’ll respect the hell out of you.
“Even if you’re struggling and you’re fighting and really trying, they’re still going to respect you. That’s what I think most guys miss. I really don’t think this is a hard place to play at all, to be honest with you. I think a hard place to play is … I don’t want to … I think it’d be miserable to play in a place like Jacksonville, where nobody cares.”
Kelce is a hero in Philadelphia. He was part of the magical 2017 team that brought the city its first-ever Lombardi Trophy. At the Super Bowl victory parade, he dressed up like a Mummer and gave a rousing speech that cemented him in Philly lore forever.
But on Thursday, Kelce found a way to somehow make Eagles fans love him even more. He dipped his toe into the Simmons situation and showed that he’s one of the few athletes who truly understands Philly sports fans.
Build the man a statue right next to Rocky.